Don't Be the Ugly American

Germany
From this angle, you'd blend in with the rest of the Rothenburg locals. From the ground, however… (PhotoDisc)
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Unless you want to one-up John F. Kennedy's memorable utterance, "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a jelly doughnut"), follow these clues to exhibit grace when in the land of the Black Forest and the philosopher kings:

  • Brush up on your Deutschland geography before you head over. A lot of places in Austria and Switzerland sound German, but in fact are not. Locals find it very annoying when Americans fail to know the difference.
  • As obvious as this sounds, do not mention World War II at the table (or most other places)! Some people still insist on bringing it up, but this topic should be avoided at all costs. Most Germans have no problem talking about the war, but there is a time and place for everything—and Americans might not recognize that time and which place.
  • Always carry some cash on you. Germany is not as tuned to credit-card culture as the U.S. and UK, and a lot of restaurants won't take cards.
  • Be prepared to walk. The Germans are an eco-friendly lot and you'll find that it's not always possible to drive door-to-door wherever you go. Some of the must-see historical hot spots will involve some legwork.


Published: 13 May 2005 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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